News about CHE and Because Health


November 16, 2021

Environmental Health

from Michael Lerner and Oren Slozberg

They say that all good things must come to an end. Karen Wang, the director of our Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), is stepping down.

Karen Wang has been the extraordinarily able and successful director of CHE at Commonweal for the past almost 5 years. During that time she also created Because Health, an environmental health educational campaign for the general public. Launched in 2018, the website has more than 400 pieces of educational environmental health content and averages 40,000 users a month and approximately 1 million page views a year. Because Health has successfully brought younger voices into the environmental health conversation and plays a crucial role in educating mainstream audiences about environmental health issues.

Karen is a natural leader and we look forward to many years of future collaboration. We cannot thank Karen enough for her contributions to CHE and for creating Because Health on her watch at Commonweal.


We are also delighted that Karen has elected to transfer Because Health from Commonweal, where she incubated and built it over the past 3 years, to the Center for Environment and Health (CEH).

CEH and Commonweal have been close partners in environmental health and justice work for more than two decades. We could not be more grateful that this visionary project will find its next home with Michael Green and his visionary team at CEH, for which we have the highest admiration.


Here is an excerpt from Karen's letter on her years at Commonweal:

I have learned so much during my 5 years with CHE and am proud of the work that we have accomplished. I want to thank Michael Lerner and Oren Slozberg for giving me the opportunity to lead CHE and for allowing me the freedom to build Because Health. I am excited to empower our Because Health audience to advocate for environmental health and justice, connecting individual action to collective impact at the Center for Environmental Health. Together we will build on Because Health’s legacy of distilling complex environmental health concepts into concrete, positive actions people can take to build healthier lives and a healthier future for all.

With Karen's departure, Commonweal will undertake a comprehensive review of how CHE can continue to serve the field.  

Ann Blake, long time consultant in the environmental and public health arena and recent acting science director for CEH, will lead CHE during the six-month scoping process.

Ann writes: 

I look forward to engaging with the CHE community as we collectively envision the best possible future role for CHE in these times of global transition.


We are also delighted that Hannah Donart, MPH , who has worked with Karen at CHE for the last 2 years, will stay on in senior leadership at CHE. Hannah is working with Karen and Ann to ensure that CHE’s programming is uninterrupted during the six-month scoping process.


One of the great things about the field of environmental health and justice is the many close collaborative relationships among those of us who have devoted decades of our lives to this work.

Karen has immense talent and will continue to be a leader in the field for decades to come.  Michael Green and Michael Lerner have been close friends and colleagues for as long as they have known each other. Michael Green writes:

“Commonweal has been home to so many important initiatives that have literally changed the world,” said Michael Green, CEO of CEH. “CEH promises to do Commonweal proud by continuing to share Because Health’s expertise and ensuring that people will use the knowledge to take action to protect our bodies and our planet.”

Karen leaves CHE stronger than ever. We have been honored to incubate Because Health and delighted to see it move to a worthy next home at CEH.

Thank you, Karen. We will strive to continue the great work you developed at CHE as we explore how we can build on it for the future.

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